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Jack of Both Sides by Florence Coombe

[Illustration: "IT'S A VERY GOOD THING, MADAM, FOR YOU ... THAT MY FRIEND HERE IS NOT DEAD!" _See page 40_]

Jack of Both Sides

The Story of a School War

BY

FLORENCE COOMBE

Author of "Boys of the Priory School" "A Chum Worth Having" "Her Friend and Mine" &c.

_ILLUSTRATED BY S. B. PEARSE_

BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED LONDON GLASGOW AND DUBLIN

CONTENTS

CHAP.

I. THE JOKE THAT FAILED 5

II. TOPPIN'S DIVE 16

III. THE CHICKEN AND THE BICYCLE 30

IV. A KNOCK AT THE WINDOW 44

V. THE STORM BREAKS 57

VI. THE MARCH HARE'S REVENGE 71

VII. HANNAH THE HOUSEMAID 85

VIII. JACK'S MAIDEN SPEECH 94

IX. LOST--A NAME 103

JACK OF BOTH SIDES

CHAPTER I

THE JOKE THAT FAILED

"I say, you fellows, look here! What do you think of this? It's our lunch!"

"This" was a large basket, lined with a white cloth, at the bottom of which lay nine bread-pills. Nine boys looked down at them in rueful disgust, and then across the school-room to where a larger group stood chuckling mischievously, their hands and mouths filled with tempting, crusty hunches, carved from the loaf according to fancy.

Those nine gray, unappetizing pellets represented all that was left of the loaf; and Mason, the boy who first spoke, realizing this, flung the big basket in a burst of indignation at the heads of the opposite clump, one or two of whom were hit. Revenge was prompt. Ere it touched the floor it was hurled back with vigour, but, being dodged successfully, fell harmless to the ground.

Mason and seven others were new-comers to Brincliffe School, and when the luncheon interval was heralded by the entrance of the loaf and the exit of the masters, it did not occur to them to join in the general rush that was made at the basket. And this was the sorry reward of good manners!

The fact of the matter is that they were not merely new boys, and therefore lawful game, but day-pupils. That was a grievance at Brincliffe--a great grievance. It was only last term that the first day-boy was admitted into Mr. West's establishment. More than one young wiseacre had gloomily prophesied that Jim Bacon was the thin end of the wedge. And now they gloated, "Didn't we say so?"

It is not easy to see at once what objection there could be to certain boys attending the school and yet sleeping in their own homes. But a rooted objection there undoubtedly was--all the stronger, perhaps, because no valid reason for it could be stated.

Now for a few moments words took the place of missiles.

"You--you greedy, giggling gobblers--you!" This was from Mason, and he was hungry. The "g's" came out in slow, studied jerks.


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